Appearing on Fox & Friends on Thursday morning, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway affirmed that President Trump is prepared to shut down the federal government unless Congress funds a border wall.
Asked by host Ainsley Earhardt if comments Trump made at his rally in Arizona on Tuesday night were meant to indicate he views funding the wall as a necessary condition of him signing any budget bill, Conway said “he’s going to stick with building that wall… and he wants the money to pay for it.”
Conway then misrepresented Trump’s longtime position on the wall.
“The president ran on building the wall, won on building the wall, and has remained steadfastly committed to doing it,” she said.
Even if it costs considerably less, Trump wants American taxpayers to spend more on a wall than the entire annual budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency or National Science Foundation.
Meanwhile, the downward trend in illegal border crossings that began during the Clinton administration continues, wall or no wall. Border agents have told reporters they don’t think the type of physical wall Trump has long supported is necessary for national security. Instead, they seek better equipment and technology.
But Conway and immigration hard-liners like Rep. Steve King (R-IA) are seeking to rewrite the history Trump’s campaign, and reframe building a border wall as something American taxpayers are demanding.
Congress will fund the wall. Trump will build the wall. It is a mandate from the American people. Honor the mandate from We the People!
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) August 24, 2017
During his aforementioned rally in Arizona, Trump said that “[i]f we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.” But comments he made during a conversation with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto indicate Trump’s motivation for pushing for the wall has to do with politics, not national security.
During that January 27 conversation, a transcript of which was recently leaked to the Washington Post, Trump characterized the wall as “the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important [thing we] talk about.”
When Nieto indicated his government has no interest in helping Trump build a wall, Trump said he understood but couldn’t say so publicly, and urged Nieto to do the same.
“You cannot say anymore that the United States is going to pay for the wall,” Trump told Nieto. “I am just going to say that we are working it out.”
— Ali A. Rizvi (@aliamjadrizvi) August 3, 2017
Last month, the House approved a $1.6 billion down payment on the wall, but the Senate has not yet done so.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Wednesday that he hopes a dispute over the wall won’t result in a government shutdown after the fiscal year comes to a close on September 30. On the other end of the spectrum, King has publicly said he’s willing to slash food assistance for low-income Americans and Planned Parenthood funding to free up money for the wall.